Bristol has a long history with aviation, so it’s no surprise that it houses a top notch aerospace museum. Aerospace Bristol is located in north Bristol, just 10 minutes off the M5. Travelling from Cardiff took us just under an hour. My husband and son love airplanes – I like the history, but don’t like travelling on them! Aerospace Bristol took me by surprise and exceeded my expectations, so I wanted to share and hopefully introduce you to your next amazing family day out.
We bought tickets to Aerospace Bristol using the National Lottery Days Out scheme. This scheme comes and goes, so it’s worth getting tickets when it’s running, as we booked way ahead for the summer holidays without any problems. Tickets to Aerospace Bristol are all valid for 12 months, so you can return time and time again. The usual cost is £19.50 for adults and £12 for children, or there are family tickets available, including options for families of three which you don’t often see, so I appreciated that. 2 adults 1 child was £45, and we had £25 off with the National Lottery scheme. Even at full price I think that Aerospace Bristol is well priced considering you can visit time and time again.
There are three sections to Aerospace Bristol. The main gallery in the building that you enter showcases 100 years of aviation history, with lots of interactive exhibits and cool planes and equipment to see.
This also houses the Red Arrows Simulator. It’s an additional £3 per person but the six year old loved it and the husband said it was fun. I didn’t do it myself as I’m a bit claustrophobic and get motion sick, so not the activity for me! There was no queue at all when we visited, despite it being a weekend in the summer holidays.
The second section was my personal favourite, and that is the hangar that houses Concorde. This is a really amazing piece of British history. I wish that Concorde travel had become commercially viable and this is coming from someone with a severe fear of lying! But it really is just so exhilarating to me to think of the engineering and the work, money, time, feats of science, everything that went into making it possible. What was particularly awesome for us is the volunteer managing the queue to go into Concorde and walk through it was someone who had flown on this very plane during a test flight. He told us about his experience and getting that first hand information was an absolute delight. All the staff and volunteers here seemed completely dedicated and so knowledgeable. I hope that supersonic travel becomes possible again – it’s crazy to me to think that supersonic plane travel is something of the past, because it seems so futuristic to me.
I really liked the clever way that the information was projected onto the airplane. The workings of the engine were particularly fascinating.
There are a couple of side rooms in this hangar upstairs with really interesting information too.
You queue to go into Concorde. There is a wait because only one to two groups of people can go on at a time due to the restricted space inside, but it’s well worth waiting for. I don’t usually like to go inside small spaces because I do get quite anxious and claustrophobic, but it was so interesting I had no problems at all. If Concorde made a comeback in the future, you might even get me to fly on it – if I could afford it that is, commercial flights cost around $12,000 and that was 20-30 years ago!
The third hanger is a conservation hanger. You can only enter on a guided tour which happens every hour. This is very educational and interesting to see what’s being worked on.
In addition to the hands on exhibits and being able to actually walk through Concorde, kids will love the outdoor playground themed like an airplane, along with chalk available for drawing on the floor. Whilst we were here there was also an owl display which was a special event for the summer holidays. We got to get up close and personal with a few owls and learn about them, so that was pretty cool and unexpected! Definitely worth checking their events calendar, especially with free annual returns so you can always pop back if anything interesting is happening.
The cafe was reasonably priced and large portions on hot food. I was also pleased to see that they offered wrapped gluten free rolls and also a gluten free cake on display. I don’t usually eat during family days out but seeing food that caters to my dietary needs available is always lovely to see. William had a ham sandwich, whilst my husband had a massive burger and chips, both were very happy with their meal. There’s also a large gift shop which seemed reasonably priced and plenty of clean and accessible toilets. The large car park is free to park in, with an optional donations box.
I really can’t think of much to fault about Aerospace Bristol. If I had to nit pick I would say that the kids activity of stamping a card was a bit confusing, the stamp isn’t an ink but just an impression and it took more force than the six year old could use. We saw several confused families trying to figure it out. It’s a cool concept but didn’t really work in practicality, just ticking off locations would probably be better – but appreciate the treasure hunt nonetheless.
We spent about 3.5 hours here and could have spent more if it hadn’t been raining as six year old could have spent some more time in the playground easily. We will definitely be back – Aerospace Bristol has a good mix of things that are interesting to adults but also things to entertain children.
I was not invited to Aerospace Bristol and they did not know I would be visiting or writing this article. Tickets were paid for entirely by myself (and as previously mentioned, with a discount from the National Lottery scheme).